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Patriots' third preseason game is no 'dress rehearsal' to Bill Belichick

Bill Belichick bristles at the talk that Friday's preseason game is a "dress rehearsal" for the Patriots. AP Photo/Steven Senne

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The New England Patriots visit the Carolina Panthers on Friday in the third preseason game for both teams. This is often called the "dress rehearsal" for the regular season, but Bill Belichick has something to say for those who subscribe to that thought.

Give. Me. A. Break.

"I don't think you can compare this game to a regular-season game, even though I've heard people try to do that. I'm not sure what game they're looking at," Belichick said Monday, going out of his way to make a point.

Not long after, Belichick was a guest on sports radio WEEI and fired it up even more.

While acknowledging that playing time might be closer to a regular-season type level, and one-on-one matchups could closer resemble the regular season, he said there's little else, if anything, that is similar.

"In terms of game-planning and strategy, and what we see in the regular season compared to what we see in the third preseason game, I don't even think you're in the same universe," Belichick said on the "Dale and Holley Show with Thornton."

"We're still running our basic plays. Our opponents, we'd expect, would run their basic plays. You get to the opener and start to get into game-planning and scheme, I mean, you're in a totally different ballpark in my opinion. I don't see any relation, any comparison at all. It's so far away I don't see how you can compare them from that standpoint."

It's often interesting to see what gets Belichick going when answering questions from reporters, and in defying the dress rehearsal theme perhaps he was hoping some of his younger players -- including third-year quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo -- would get the message too.

Garoppolo and a good portion of the first-team offense already played into the third quarter in the second preseason game, and it would make sense to think they'll do it again Friday against the defending NFC champions.

Just don't call it a dress rehearsal.

"We're not talking about a regular-season game here. We're not talking about game-planning and all of those kind of things, which I can't imagine would happen in this game, but [will] happen in a couple of weeks," Belichick said.

"In terms of evaluations, just kind of straight-up evaluations, it's a great opportunity for us. These guys can run the ball, they have a great defense, they have a couple of explosive players on offense, in the kicking game. They're playing at home so it's a lot of things that are a great test for our team and we need those, so it'll be a good opportunity for us.

"But it's just not from a gameplan standpoint. We're in a whole different ballgame there."